Kaitaia Hospital operations manager Neta Smith has defended the Northland DHB's Covid-19 testing measures in Kaitaia, in response to claims from Dr Lance O'Sullivan that no testing facilities are currently available at the town's hospital.
Dr O'Sullivan said on his Facebook page on Saturday that he was the old Warehouse carpark (where a Mai Health clinic has been set up) and had had consultations with two people who he was convinced were Covid-positive. He was "as frustrated as hell" that there was nowhere open for him to test them. One of the patients has just been to Pak'nSave in Kaitaia, and he was suggesting that it was no longer safe to go there.
He claimed that there was next to no capacity for testing in Kaitaia, and that that was potentially disastrous.
Northland DHB CEO Dr Nick Chamberlain said he had told Dr O'Sullivan that there were no Covid-19 patients at Kaitaia Hospital, but denied saying at any stage that there was nothing to worry about in the town.
Meanwhile Ms Smith said on Saturday that her team had been working hard over the past three weeks to put systems and processes in place to ensure the community that it was safe.
The DHB had set up seven community testing centres throughout Northland, including in Kaitaia. They had been in place for more than two weeks, and Northland had been the first DHB in the country to establish all its testing centres.
The testing centre at the entrance to Kaitaia Hospital was operating from 9am to 4pm Monday to Friday, while GP and hospital services were running 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
"If someone is unwell and they need to be seen, they will be seen and tested," Ms Smith said.
"Anyone with acute respiratory infection and at least one of the following symptoms - a cough, sore throat, shortness of breath, head cold, or loss of sense of smell, with or without fever, will be tested for Covid-19.
"We have adequate supplies and equipment to treat you, and currently have 120 swabs available in Kaitaia Hospital.
"I would also like to reiterate that we have no confirmed or probable cases of Covid-19 in Kaitaia Hospital. We do not need two testing centres in Kaitaia, but we may need to transition to another site in the community if Kaitaia Hospital gets busy with Covid-19 cases.
"We are working very hard with iwi, Māori providers, GPs, the council and other social agencies to ensure we can provide the best possible support for our Far North communities and whānau, as we are all acutely aware of what happened in the last pandemic over 100 years ago.
"So whānau, please be reassured that our team here at Kaitaia Hospital are working very hard to keep our community safe. The best thing you can do is stay home, and remember, if you need GP or hospital services, please do not hesitate to call us so we can see how best to help you."